Our CMO, Andra Hedden, got back to the office several days ago after an action-packed trip to CompTIA ChannelCon 2015 in Chicago. This is one of her favorite events of the year. It gave her and our CEO, Terry Hedden, a chance to not only meet with a good mix of current partners and prospects, but also sit down with a variety of IT thought-leaders to share views on the future of the industry and focus on growing the reseller and vendor communities.

ChannelCon’s aim is to bring the entire channel together for this three-day event and to attend high- level executive panel discussions, participate in training courses and leverage opportunities to grow your business and develop new partnerships. We had the privilege of speaking during an hour-long session entitled: “The Writing Side of Sales.”

In attendance for our session was Spencer Smith, associate editor of TechTarget. Afterward, he filed an article summarizing our presentation. He accurately depicted Marketopia’s message that it’s the details that make your MSP business stand out from your competitor, even when it comes to writing and designing your marketing and sales collateral.

Following is a truncated version of the article Spencer posted August 5, 2015, the last day of the event. You can read the complete, published version here.

 

CompTIA ChannelCon: Marketing, sales collateral checklist

“Right now, more than ever, marketing is a huge differentiator” for channel companies, (Andra) Hedden said. “Obviously, we had years previously where marketing kind of fell off a little bit. … Now, we are in a pendulum swing … where marketing is truly what is going to lead your differentiation between you and your competitor.”

Hedden (CMO at the St. Petersburg-based MSP marketing firm) and Marketopia define collateral broadly. According to Hedden, it’s any of the materials used during the sales process and that describe your company, including proposals.

Before a partner creates or revamps its marketing and sales collateral, the company needs to have a clear understanding of what it provides its customers. Additionally, a partner should understand what types of problems it solves, what its business goals are and how they help its customers. … If done right, marketing and sales collateral should instill comfort and confidence in your clients.

 

Marketing and sales checklist

Hedden provided the following checklist of sales and marketing elements that all partners, regardless of company size, should have in place:

• A website. While it’s unlikely many partners today don’t have websites, Hedden emphasized how important those websites are. She also said partners should have a website, as well as a search engine optimization strategy and promoted search engine marketing.

• A brochure. Your brochure should be “a depiction of what you sell … in terms that your clientele is going to understand,” Hedden said.

• Business cards. According to Hedden, partners should optimize their business cards for the sales process. Ensure each employee’s business cards will clearly show whoever receives them what they can call on that employee for.

• White papers and e-books.

• Industry and solutions sell sheets.

• Client-facing presentations. “It’s extremely important to have items in your arsenal of sales support that are very specific to whom you’re selling to,” Hedden said. “When you’re talking to customers, they need to know you understand the rules and regulations of the vertical that they’re in. They need to know that you really get the infrastructure that they have in place right now so you can actually implement this new solution.”

• Quotes for hardware and software. Proposals for services, including hourly, managed services and cloud. Hedden recommended partners prepare every type of proposal template they’ll need ahead of time, so when an opportunity presents itself, their sales reps can quickly customize the template for the client and move forward with the sales process. “Proposals make you more trustworthy,” she said.

• Network assessments and audits. Network assessments are a “form of marketing” and a great way for partners to show their expertise, according to Hedden. She suggested offering network assessments and audits “in a consumable fashion so (clients) understand what it is you’re trying to portray to them and why you’re giving them this audit so you can in turn sell them whatever the product or solution is.”

• Marketing campaign elements. “If you’re not doing marketing campaigns, you should be. … Yes, you can be found online, but if no one hears from you, if you’re not getting top-of-mind (attention) in campaigns, it’s really tough for your sales reps. Your sales reps need to be having warm leads out there,” she said.

 

Customer perceptions

Each of these elements weaves together into a portrait of your company, contributing to your customers’ perception of who you are, Hedden said. It’s important that everything you do across your business is consistent, precise and “a reflection of whom you are.”

She added everyone in the partner business needs to be on board in terms of branding and messaging, so when they’re speaking to customers or prospects, “they understand what they’re portraying … and they are a good representation of your company.”

You can read TechTarget Associate Editor Spencer Smith’s complete, published version of this article here.

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